Here’s a familiar conundrum: You want to go out to eat, but you also want to be fiscally responsible. You know the best-known tricks to save money when eating out, like going out to lunch instead of dinner, splitting entrees, skipping the appetizers and desserts, and drinking water. But there’s another hack you might not have thought of: getting free food! Everyone loves free food, and when you’re in the know, you can score some great deals.
Join the Rewards Club
Have you ever gone to one of your favorite places to eat and had the person behind the counter recite your order to you before you said a word? If you tend to go to the same places often enough that everyone there recognizes you, see if they have a rewards program you can take advantage of. Lots of fast-food and other chain restaurants have rewards programs that allow you to earn loyalty points and turn them into free food and drinks. Here are some restaurants with great rewards programs:
Love a burrito bowl? Earn free ones with Chipotle’s reward program, which gives you 10 points for each dollar you spend. Chipotle also offers special periods where you can earn extra points. Once you get 1,250 points, you get a free entrée.
For each dollar you spend at Dunkin’, you’ll earn five reward points. After you accumulate 200 points, you’ll get a free drink of your choice.
- P.F. Chang’s:
P.F. Chang’s helps you earn your first free entree quickly by giving you 1,000 points when you sign up. After signing up, you get 10 points for each dollar spent. Two thousand points nets you a free entree!
Starbucks recently revamped its loyalty program, adding different tiers to allow for more flexibility in using rewards. Twenty-five stars will get you an extra espresso shot, or be patient and save your stars for a free drink at 150 stars or a bag of coffee at 400 stars. You can also use their app to get alerts about happy hour specials.
Download the App
Many chain restaurants have apps that allow you to locate restaurants, consult the menu, and even order your food before you get to the restaurant. Ever been standing in a long line when you see someone come in, walk up to the counter, and leave with their food? It’s because they ordered through the app. Apps can also make using restaurants’ reward programs super-easy, give you access to exclusive deals not available elsewhere, and even let you earn free food faster! Here are some great apps to start with:
The Dominos app enables you to access their current coupons, place an order, track your order (either pick up or delivery), and earn points with their Piece of the Pie Rewards program. Your reward points will soon result in a free pizza!
The McDonald’s app gives you access to exclusive deals and coupons, letting you save major moola on your favorite items.
Downloading the Moe’s app immediately scores you free food: a cup of queso. When your birthday rolls around, you’ll receive a free burrito. You’ll also earn 10 points for each $1 spent, and 1,000 points gets you a $10 reward.
Download the app, purchase food through the app, and get a free spicy chicken sandwich! The app also helps you find a Wendy’s, place an order, and customize your order to your liking.
Find Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
We all want to save money, but sometimes we want to treat our families (and ourselves!) to a nice meal that no one has to cook or clean up after. Most restaurants offer kids’ menus, but those orders of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets can add a lot to the final bill. What’s a budget-conscious parent to do? Find a restaurant where kids eat free! Here are a few examples of the free food available for kids:
- Bruster’s Real Ice Cream:
Kids less than 40 inches tall get a free baby cone! And if Fido is along for the ride, Bruster’s will also give you a free pup cup.
- Holiday Inn:
On a trip? You can still save! Holiday Inn offers free meals in their hotel restaurants for all kids under 12 staying at the hotel. Lots of other hotels do this, too.
During dinner hours, each adult meal purchased qualifies you for a free kids’ meal!
Eat Free on Your Birthday
We’ve all been there: You’re eating dinner at a restaurant when suddenly, most of the servers converge around one table, drop off a treat, and start singing a silly happy-birthday song. Restaurants know they are popular birthday destinations, and most of them are happy to do something to make your birthday a little extra-special. Some restaurants go above and beyond and will give you an entire entree for free. Check out the policies for your favorite restaurants to see what you have to do to eat free: Some require you to join a loyalty program or sign up for their email list, while others don’t require you to do anything but show up hungry.
Other Ways to Score Free Food
So you’ve joined loyalty programs, downloaded apps, figured out what restaurants let you feed your kids for free, and sussed out the best deals for birthdays. Don’t stop now; there are still more ways to score free food from restaurants!
- Seniors: Are you a senior citizen? If so, you can get free coffee at places like Dunkin’, Wendy’s, and Whataburger. Plenty of other restaurants also offer special discounts, menus, and deals just for seniors.
- Teachers: Teacher Appreciation Week happens each May, and it’s a chance for teachers to score some significant restaurant deals. So mark your calendars and save some money!
- Veterans: Restaurants honor service members every Veterans Day with free food and exclusive discounts. You could get free meals at Applebee’s, Chili’s, Golden Corral, or any of a host of other popular spots. Most offers will require a military ID, and they’re usually applicable for active-duty military members as well as veterans.
- Restaurant Week: Large cities, small towns, and everywhere in between will typically host a restaurant week during the year. Restaurants will usually offer a prix fixe menu that includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Where does free food come in? The price for all three courses is often the same as or less than the regular price of the entree!
Before heading out to enjoy a meal out, it’s important to make sure that all of your necessities are met. When making ends meet, TitleMax may have the alternative lending options to get your account back in the black. Be it a personal loan or a car title loan, if an unexpected financial emergency has you struggling to pay important bills, TitleMax is here for you.